Collaborating Authors

Success in the next normal starts with employee education and reskilling


The first time I met Adam Rauh was earlier this year at the 2020 National Retail Federation (NRF) in New York. Adam is a lead solutions engineer at Tableau, a Salesforce company, and was at NRF with the purpose of demonstrating some of the most advanced analytics use cases in the retail industry. Rauh and I did a quick video demonstration of retailers can use analytics and machine learning to improve revenue, profitability, and customer experience. Our video had nearly 10K views at the conference. When data is visualized, everyone can take action.@tableau

MIT gives soft robots a better sense of touch and spatial awareness


You know robotic grippers are getting advanced when they can pick up a potato chip without crushing it. In order to do that, they need tactile sensing and proprioception -- an awareness of where they are in space. This kind of sensing has been absent in most soft robots, but now two teams from MIT have solutions that could change that. Their research may enable soft robots to better sense what they're gripping and how much force to use. One team built off previous research from MIT and Harvard University in which researchers developed a soft, cone-shaped robotic gripper that collapses on objects like a Venus flytrap and can pick up items 100 times its weight.

The best gifts for your dad, the outdoorsman


As summer quickly approaches, some dads are itching to get outside. Even if the number of places we can go has been reduced due to the pandemic, many will spend hours in their backyards tinkering with home projects, training for a nonexistent triathlon and grilling every chance they get. As Father's Day approaches, here are the best gifts for all the DIY-, camping-, grilling- and sport-loving dads in our lives. A good head lamp is an easy to way upgrade Dad's camping kit. We've recommended BioLite head lamps in the past, and the new HeadLamp 200 is a winner too, not to mention quite affordable. This model's USB rechargeable battery makes it more convenient than traditional head lamps because your dad won't have to worry about having a few AAA batteries on hand: Just plug it in and charge it up.

What to buy for new grads who need help "adulting"


Even if your grad has finally made it through college, that doesn't mean they're ready to step out into the real world with no help. They'll not only have to find a job but also might need a little help living on their own, taking on more responsibility and being more of an adult in general. That includes having better security practices, dressing smarter and, if they're lucky enough to find their own apartment, making their new place feel more like home. Here are a few gadgets that could help ease the transition into "adulthood." It's not a terribly sexy subject, but keeping your online data safe should be a priority for everyone, including your new grad.

Now all your home's Alexa devices work like an intercom


Amazon Alexa users can now use the "Drop In" feature to talk with all of their Echo devices at once, Amazon announced on its blog. Previously, Drop In messages could only be sent to one other Alexa-enabled device at a time -- a user with an Alexa device in the bedroom could "drop in" on a device in the kitchen and have a two-way conversation. Now, you can use a device to send a message to all Echo devices in the house at once. This could be helpful with asking group questions like, "Does anyone want anything from the grocery store?" according to the Amazon blog. To start a group Drop In conversation, you can ask Alexa to "Drop In everywhere."

Android 11: Google postpones release of beta version of major new phone software update, saying 'now is not the time'

The Independent - Tech

Google will postpone the unveiling of its Android 11 update after declaring that "now is not the time". The announcement came as protests continued across US cities, following the death of George Floyd in policy custody. It is one of a range of measures taken by the company to show its support for the Americans protesting against racial inequality. It also added a message to its search page that reads: "We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it". YouTube, which is owned by the same company, has committed $1 million to non-profit Center for Policing Equity in a move it said demonstrated "solidarity against racism and violence".

MIT builds robot hand that can 'see and feel' objects as fragile as a crisp in major breakthrough

The Independent - Tech

Robotic hands capable of picking up objects as fragile as a crisp by "sensing" objects have been developed by researchers. Two new tools built by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) offer a breakthrough in the emerging field of soft robotics – a new generation of robots that use squishy, flexible materials rather than traditional rigid equipment. These types of soft robots often draw inspiration from living organisms and offer numerous benefits in their versatile functionality. They are able to operate far more delicately than their rigid counterparts, but until now they have lacked the ability to perceive what items they are interacting with. To overcome this, the researchers equipped their robots with various sensors, cameras and software, allowing them to "see and classify" a range of objects.

Staring at your phone at night could be linked to depression, study finds

The Independent - Tech

Exposure to artificial light at night has been found to induce depressive-like behaviour in mice, a new study has found. The findings could help with the understanding of how exposure to excessive light at night-time triggers depression in humans. Researchers from the University of Science and Technology in China exposed mice to two hours of blue light – the same light emitted from light pollution or electronic devices like smartphones – for several weeks. They observed that after three weeks the animals displayed depressive tendencies, measured by reduced escape behaviour and decreased preference for sugar. These bouts of depression lasted up for an additional three weeks after the mice were no longer exposed to light at night.

Our universe could have been spinning around, new study that might change our understanding of the cosmos suggests

The Independent - Tech

Galaxies are spinning in different directions, scientists have found – a discovery that could change our undertstanding of the structure of the universe. The spin of those galaxies seem to suggest there are unexpected and unexplained links between the directions of their spin. The structure formed by those unusual links could suggest that the early universe was also spinning, according to the new study. That is in conflict with previous understandings of the structure of the universe at the largest scale. For decades, scientists have believed that the universe is expanding in no particular direction, with the galaxies inside of it distributed with no particular structure.

Alice – Tell Stories. Build Games. Learn to Program.

Oxford Comp Sci

Alice is an innovative block-based programming environment that makes it easy to create animations, build interactive narratives, or program simple games in 3D. Alice is designed to teach logical and computational thinking skills, fundamental principles of programming and to be a first exposure to object-oriented programming. The Alice Project provides supplemental tools and materials for teaching using Alice across a spectrum of ages and subject matter with proven benefits in engaging and retaining diverse and underserved groups in computer science education.